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The Honest Child - 35 Parenting Tips Teach Truthfulness

By Jean Tracy, MSS

Lying damages your child's reputation and breeds distrust. But there's more. If you're the parent of an elementary-age student, can you remember a time when you told a falsehood? If it had bad consequences, can you remember your mental anguish? Were you plagued with guilt and regret? Were you afraid to confess the truth? Did you worry that you'd be found out? Did you fear punishment?

Lies can cause your child mental torment too. Today's article shares 8 painful results from lying, 7 positive effects for being truthful, 6 honesty strategies, 5 moral dilemmas, and 10 self-talk statements to discuss with your kids.

When Kids Lie - 7 Painful Outcomes

It's hard to imagine a youngster who hasn't lied. So, when your child is in a good mood, ask her if she's ever fibbed. Be kind and remain calm or she won't trust you.

If she says, “Yes,” ask if she's willing to share a lie. Listen well. Then discuss whether she's ever experienced the following. Start with, "Because of lying did you ever...,"


1. Feel guilty?
2. Fear being caught in the lie?
3. Fear being thought less than perfect?
4. Fear being suspected, questioned, or interrogated?
5. Fear being distrusted?
6. Lose sleep because of worry?
7. Fear being punished?


Encourage her by making comments like, “Tell me more.” “How did you deal with it?” and “What do wish you had done about it?”

Take all the time she needs to express her experiences with lying. In the end, she may feel relieved because she talked about it with you, understands why lying is wrong, and is motivated to tell the truth.

You might feel good too because she trusted your patience, understanding, and guidance while discussing her real thoughts and feelings.

Truthful Kids – 7 Good Outcomes

At another time, discuss the fruits of honesty. Listen more than talk. Ask him how he might develop the following and how each would make him feel.


• The habit of telling the truth
• Being trustworthy
• A good reputation
• Honest feelings inside himself
• A clear conscience
• Good sleeps free from worry
• Freedom from quilt


Realizing the benefits of telling the truth may help your child decide to be as truthful as possible. Being a trustworthy person can be a mighty good feeling.

6 Honest Ways for Kids to Correct Lies

Dishonesty in ourselves is tough to face. Yet, if we have a well-working conscience, we will feel guilt for being untruthful. There will be times we need to repair the damage our deceptions have caused. Have a conversation about these 6 different ways to heal ourselves and mend our reputation with others.

Ask, “Which action below is the hardest for you?” Discuss times when your child took some of the actions below. Then ask, “How did you feel afterward?”


1. Facing the consequences of lying
2. Telling the truth to all whom your lie has hurt
3. Apologizing for the lie face to face, on the phone, or by written note
4. Fixing the problems, if possible, for those affected by the lie
5. Repairing or replacing any damage caused by the lie for example, a broken vase
6. Be consistently trustworthy to regain the trust of others


3 Suggestions to Tell Your Child When He Is Ready to Admit His Mistakes:


1) "Avoid over-thinking about the action you are about to take. It might stop you from telling the truth."
2) "Take 5 deep breaths right before admitting your lie. It will help you relax."
3) "Repeat a simple slogan like, “My truth is like gold when my honesty's bold” because it could give you the courage you need."


5 Dilemma Discussions for Kids and Parents

Discussing dilemmas is a powerful way to help kids to think about right and wrong. With dilemmas, your child has the chance to pretend someone else has the problem and come up with a solution. Use the dilemmas below and ask her to think of answers that would give kids a clean conscience. Have fun with the problems by digging a little deeper and asking questions of your own.

1. Caleb's report card is very bad. How might he feel if he told his parents he lost it? Why? What advice would you give Caleb?

2. Scarlett's parents told her not to play with matches. She accidentally started a grass fire in her backyard with matches. Should she tell them, she did it? Why? What advice would you give Scarlett?

3. Nathan picked up a $10 bill near his teacher's desk and put it in his pocket. Should he keep quiet about picking it up when she asks the class about it? Why? What advice would you give Nathan?

4. Charlotte's mom asked her if she had any homework. She said, “I did it in school.” But she really didn't. How should she feel knowing she lied and played video games instead? Why? What advice would you give Charlotte?

5. Samuel's dad said he'd take Sam and his brother to the movies after they did a good job cleaning their rooms. Sam stuffed everything under his bed (his dad wouldn't look there) How should Sam feel about going to the movies knowing he didn't do what his dad wanted? Why? What advice would you give Samuel?

Ask your child to come up with some dilemmas she's faced in the past and how she handled them. Your youngster's good solutions are the best models for her future actions.

10 Self-Talk Slogans for Honest Kids

The talk we have in our heads can influence us to do right or wrong. When children tell lies, their self-talk may be defensive. For instance, they might say, “I don't want my dad to be mad at me,” or “I'm afraid I'll get punished.” Encourage your elementary-age child to pick a favorite slogan below to say often when he's tempted to lie. Better yet, ask him to make up one of his own. Ask, “Why do you think it will help you be truthful?”


1. An honest heart tells the truth from the start.
2. When my lie is found out, my trust is in doubt.
3. When my words are not true, I'm sad, guilty, and blue.
4. A dishonest life is filled with strife.
5. My heart feels the best when my words are honest.
6. When I'm frank with you, I feel honest and true.
7. It's very uncool to lie like a fool.
8. When lies deceive and indict; only truth sets things right.
9. A conscience with lies feels heavy and sighs.
10. My truth is like gold when my honesty's bold.


When your youngster has a slogan, consider helping him find a font and an appropriate picture from the computer to design a ‘reminder poster' and tape it where he will see it often.

Raising Honest Children

We can all be dishonest from time to time and, if we have a good conscience, we'll feel regret for minor lies and guilt for major deceptions. For children that regret can turn into a torturous guilt if they believe the results are disastrous. You can help relieve them.

Being a good parent means teaching kids about honesty, lies, guilt, and conscience. Let's save children from the frequent agony of guilt by encouraging them to be honest and seeing both its beauty and moral strength.

Use the suggestions above to raise happy honest children. If you do, you'll be building character too.

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View YouTube Video The Honest Child and Conscience: 10 Parenting Discussions and enjoy your parent/child conversations.

Pick up 51 dilemmas for fun discussions with your children Dilemma Discussion Kit and enjoy hearing their solutions and building their character.

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